The early years census is a mandatory return which the local authority collects on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE).
It is an annual collection of data from all early years funded providers who receive direct government funding for any two, three or four year-old. It covers all private, voluntary or independent nurseries and providers of early years education, schools providing full day or sessional day care childminders and childminding networks.
The census requires nil returns from funded providers if they have no funded children on roll at the census date.
Any early years provider who does not receive government funding does not take part in the census return.